The Australian Government has today (13th September) introduced long-awaited legislation that will ban the use credit cards in online gambling.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (Credit and Other Measures), 2023, seeks to prohibit credit cards and credit-related products as well as digital currency.
The amendment also includes fines against operators who do not enforce the prohibition. Licensees could be fined up to AU$234,750 (PS120,462/EUR140,014/US$150,467) for not following the mooted new laws.
The amendment also extends the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) power to enforce existing and new penalty provisions. ACMA will be the one to issue penalties for those who do not comply with the proposed ban.
If the amendment becomes law, both the gambling industry as well as the consumers will be subject to a six-month period of transition. The amendment would take effect immediately after the Royal Assent.
Australia has already banned gambling using credit cards in land-based establishments. The bill would align online gambling with this ban, effectively placing a blanket prohibition on all credit card gaming.
Michelle Rowland, MP, Minister for Communications, stated: “It is as simple as that. People shouldn’t bet with money they don’t have.” The government is committed to protecting Australians against gambling harms.
The ban on credit card gambling online will protect Australians who are vulnerable and their families.
The long road to a ban on credit card gambling
The new bill will implement the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services starting in November 2021. Australia has long considered a ban on credit card gambling.
In December 2019 the Australian Banking Association hosted a Consultation on Credit Cards in Gambling. The initiative ran until March 2020 and also examined how banks could help protect players.
Great Britain’s successful ban on credit card gaming prompted calls for action in spring 2020. The following summer, members of Responsible Gambling Australia, such as Bet365, Betfair, and Entain said that they would back a ban.
The government worked with a wide range of stakeholders in order to draft the bill, including operators, harm-reduction advocates, betting and lottery providers, and banking payment organizations.
In this context, some parties decided to implement their own bans. The consumer-owned bank Bank Australia announced in October 2021 that account holders would no longer be able to use their credit cards to fund gaming.
Amanda Rishworth, MP, Minister for Social Services, commented on the new bill. She said that it was the latest move by the government in addressing the harm caused by online gaming.
Rishworth stated that “you can’t place a wager using your credit card for land-based gaming and the same rules apply to online gambling as well.” “We are serious about protecting Australians who are vulnerable from the harm that online gambling can cause. The new rules are aimed at punishing any platform that violates them.
“We know that minimising the harm from online gambling isn’t a one-time exercise. I look forward working with my counterparts in state and territories on what to do next to continue to make this positive change.”
Australia to increase efforts in combating gambling harm
The Australian government has also introduced monthly activity statements that detail wins and losses. The government has also implemented new, evidence-based tags to replace the “Gamble responsibly” tagline and implemented national consistent training for employees working in this sector.
The BetStop self-exclusion registry is now available to consumers. They can choose to exclude themselves from all Australian gambling licensees, for a time period ranging from three months to life.
The government will also introduce a mandatory pre-verification of customers in the near future. Operators will be required to verify the identity of customers when they sign up for a new betting account or before they place a wager. This is expected to be implemented by the end September.
The government also said it was considering other recommendations made by a parliamentary investigation into online gambling. The government will convene a meeting with state, territory and Commonwealth ministers who are responsible for online gambling before the end 2023.